Massey looking forward to ‘business end of the season’
There is a big week in store at Oriel Park as Dundalk FC head into two very big cup games that will shape their trophy ambitions for the remainder of the season.
Tomorrow night, the Lilywhites welcome Bohemians to Oriel Park for the semi-final of the EA Sports Cup, before they head north to the Brandywell on Friday night for a mouthwatering FAI Cup second round tie with Derry City FC.
Left back Dane Massey says he was pleased to put the disappointment of Dundalk’s Europa League exit to bed with Friday’s 5-0 win over Finn Harps in the SSE Airtricity League and he believes that, with a seven-point lead at the top of the table and a game in hand over title rivals Shamrock Rovers, the squad can go into this crucial week of cup fixtures with confidence.
“We’ve had a hectic schedule of late and obviously there were a few heads disappointed after our European exit, but we know you won’t get nights like that unless you win the league and that’s a massive target of ours,” said the 31-year-old.
“We feel we’ve been the best footballing side in the league, so confidence is flying at the minute. We’re playing really positive stuff and competition throughout the squad is immense at the moment. Our training games are at such intensity.
“We’re coming into the business end of the season now, with the semi-final of the cup tomorrow night, so everyone is really looking forward to it.”
Bohemians visit Oriel Park tomorrow full of confidence after a stunning 10-1 win over UCD at Dalymount Park on Friday night. Dundalk have had three close encounters with Keith Long’s team this season and, although they have prevailed on each occasion in the league, Massey knows that tomorrow’s game will be every bit as challenging as the previous three.
“Keith Long has Bohs well prepped now. They are a cracking young side. They have a lot of young players coming through and they are doing really well at the minute. Naturally enough, their confidence is going to be high coming into the game, so we’re expecting a tough game tomorrow night,” said Massey.
“We’re doing our homework today so we’ll be well prepared about their strengths and where we can attack them. It’s a cup semi-final, an opportunity to get into another final and it’s definitely a cup that’s in our targets.”
With a line drawn in the metaphorical sand after the European exit, talk amongst Dundalk supporters has returned to the domestic and the possibility of winning a possible treble come the end of the season.
Whilst Massey is under no illusions about the size of the task in hand, with a unbeaten run of 18 domestic games behind the squad, stretching back over four months, he believes that it is achievable target if the players can maintain their focus.
“We’re well capable of doing it – it’s just about getting the mindset right. We’ve got a really busy schedule coming up in the next few weeks and that’s the way you want to keep it.
“We want to be in every competition we can be. Semi-finals of the cup tomorrow, we’re still in the FAI Cup and we’re coming down to the final sprint now for the league. It’s where we want to be.”
Dundalk head coach Vinny Perth has really drawn on the depth of his squad this season, often citing the rightful claims of every player to a first-team spot.
Massey believes this depth has been a crucial factor in Dundalk’s season to date and, as the squad set their sights on a domestic treble, he knows that it will prove every bit as important in the weeks ahead.
“We’re a special group. We’re a very close group. Everyone’s in fine form and wants to be in the starting eleven, but if you’re not in the starting eleven, you’re pushing the lads on that are in ahead of you.
“The drive is there within the players. Everybody has their sights on the treble, so it’s definitely a target of ours and we’re looking forward to competing.
“Whether we can go all the way remains to be seen, but it won’t be for want of trying.”
With games coming thick and fast, Massey believes that Dundalk supporters will have a huge part to play in the team’s drive for trophies and he expects nothing less than the Lilywhite faithful to help carry the squad through the crucial weeks ahead.
“You only have to look at the European game in Tallaght – four or five thousand making that massive trip down the road on a rainy Tuesday night,” he said.
“All the players really appreciate the fans’ efforts. Even on Friday night in full voice, it really gets you over the line and I know that, coming into the business part of the season, they are going to play a massive part here in Oriel Park.”